On Paid YouTube, Sci-Fi Comedy and the Grown-Up Karate Kid

On Paid YouTube, Sci-Fi Comedy and the Grown-Up Karate Kid


The show’s other idea, which works better than you’d expect, is to make the story a variation on and critique of the MAGA narrative, with Johnny having aged into a Clint Eastwood character — disgruntled, underemployed, reflexively racist, quietly seething in the face of change. Daniel, meanwhile, has become a glib huckster who yells “Banzai!” in commercials for his chain of auto dealerships.

The show knows better than to push that idea too hard — it’s a framework for a familiar light drama, or serious comedy, about outsiders and cool kids that finds more room than usual for its adult characters. Mr. Zabka, who carries most of the dramatic weight, and Mr. Macchio are capable and comforting to watch. “Cobra Kai” is about as guilt-free as nostalgia wallows get.

“Dallas & Robo” is more blandly contemporary and, through two episodes available for review, less well defined. But it’s amusing enough to make you curious. Kat Dennings of “2 Broke Girls” and the wrestling star John Cena provide the voices of the title characters, a former stock-car driver and her robot sidekick who drive an interstellar freighter that’s a cross between a tractor-trailer and a tugboat. The show’s creator, Mike Roberts, was the supervising director of another recent animated sci-fi comedy, TBS’s unexpectedly sweet “Final Space.”

The long-haul-in-space genre includes “Alien,” “Firefly” and “Cowboy Bebop,” but the closest comparison here is “Futurama,” another breakneck animated comedy. “Dallas & Robo” moves just as fast but is fractionally less joke oriented and a little more story oriented, focusing on the friendship between the narcissistic, motor-mouthed Dallas (saved from being unbearable by Ms. Dennings’s unstoppable charm) and the heroically patient Robo. Their adventures tie together a hip voice cast that includes Nat Faxon, Giancarlo Esposito and, most rewardingly, Jane Lynch as Dallas’s former mechanic, now the leader of a cannibal biker gang.

Netflix has its own reboots and animated comedies, of course. A lot of them. If you’re already paying for those, “Cobra Kai,” “Dallas & Robo” and the handful of other YouTube originals may not, at this point, merit a second subscription. On the other hand, how bad is your fear of missing out? Or what’s it worth to you not to have to wait for that cat video?



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